Saunders wins House seat; Mark a Senate seat



Published: 11/9/2022 9:07:37 PM

Democrat Aaron Saunders won his bid to represent the newly designed 7th Hampden District in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday, while fellow Democrat Paul Mark is the new state senator for the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden District vacated by Adam Hinds.

Saunders defeated Republican James “Chip” Harrington. The Belchertown resident and former Ludlow selectman said the win was the result of eight months of campaigning. Harrington called Saunders late Tuesday night to concede and congratulate his opponent.

Saunders said he would like to focus on combating the opioid epidemic and the climate crisis and establishing east-west passenger rail in Massachusetts.

“There are a lot of specific needs that our communities are going to have,” he said.

Saunders served for seven years on the Ludlow Selectboard and spent six as the chief of staff for former state Sen. Gale Candaras.

“There’s going to be no shortage of work for us, that’s for sure. I’m going to be working my tail off for all of (my constituents),” he said. “It’s going to be a busy six weeks between now and (January). I’m so very grateful for the opportunity to serve.”

Saunders is a co-founder of Loophole Brewing, which opened in Ludlow about three months before COVID-19 restrictions went into place.

The 7th Hampden District includes Belchertown, Pelham and Shutesbury and several other Franklin County and North Quabbin towns.

Mark’s win

For Mark, his election to the state Senate marks the next step in his state political career, which began in 2010 when he was elected as state representative for the 2nd Berkshire District.

“I’m grateful to the people in Franklin County for the past 11 years — it’s been an amazing opportunity,” Mark said Wednesday afternoon, referencing that he received huge support from the communities he’s previously represented, while also receiving plenty of votes from his new constituents. “It feels affirming and really exciting.”

In his new role, Mark will represent all of Berkshire County; the Hampshire County towns of Williamsburg, Goshen, Cummington, Chesterfield, Westhampton, Middlefield, Worthington and Huntington; and the Franklin County towns of Monroe, Rowe, Charlemont, Hawley, Ashfield, Buckland, Heath, Colrain, Shelburne, Conway and Whately.

As a state senator, which ihas 40 members to the House’s 160, Mark said he will have a chance to forge new relationships with colleagues, while also serving as a chair on legislative committees. With these new opportunities, Mark emphasized the need to ensure that western Massachusetts is included in funding decisions.

“Number one is making sure we’re never forgotten in Boston,” Mark said. “Representing 57 different communities in the region, it’s easy for us to get overlooked — it’s been a battle on the House side.”

“It’s exciting because I’m coming into the Senate with zero Senate experience, but I’m not a rookie,” Mark said.

Unopposed races

Unopposed incumbents who won another term Tuesday include state Sen. Jo Comerford, and state Reps. Lindsay Sabadosa, Dan Carey, Mindy Domb, Patricia Duffy and Natalie Blais.

Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan, an incumbent Democrat, was reelected. Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan was also reelected to his position, which represents Franklin and Hampshire counties, as well as Athol.

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